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UK minister joins Zim poll criticism

United Kingdom Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell

The United Kingdom Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell has said Zimbabwe’s election results tallying lacked transparency.

Zanu PF presidential candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared winner of the largely controversial polls held on August 23 and 24.

Several election observers have flagged the polls as not credible and failing to meet local, regional and international guidelines on holding free, fair and credible elections.

The Southern African Development Community election observer mission issued a damning report, attracting angry outbursts from Harare, the ruling Zanu PF party and its supporters.

However, Mitchell added his voice saying the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)-run polls failed to pass the transparency test.

“The United Kingdom commends the people of Zimbabwe for demonstrating patience and resilience in exercising their democratic rights, and especially for maintaining a peaceful atmosphere on election day and beyond,” he said.

“We share the view of the election observation missions’ preliminary statements that the pre-election environment and election day fell short of regional and international standards. Issues included limited transparency from the electoral commission, the lack of a level playing field, the passing of repressive legislation, long delays in the opening of some polling stations, and reports of intimidation of voters.”

Mitchell also raised concern over the raid and arbitrary arrest of local election watchdogs during the August polls.

Armed police stormed Zimbabwe Election Support Network and Election Resource Centre offices in Harare during election pay, arresting 39 election monitors and seized computers and related election material which was being used by the poll watchdog to follow the election.

The members have since been granted US$200 bail each.

He said the UK took note of the announcement by Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba.

“However, we are concerned by a lack of transparency in the tallying of results, as well as the arrest of domestic observers,” he said.

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